One of the things that's become evident this week with the Alabama loss is that even though some times you may be able to win the SEC, you aren't necessarily guaranteed your pop at the National Championship. Now obviously we all know that we're playing a huge scenario of "ifs and butts" here however it's good to know we can at least have this banter at this point in the season right?
I've always made an argument when I'm on the pro-Richt train at times that one of the greatest arguments for him is that he's had seasons that in other season would have put him in the National Championship. Without going into it I think everyone knows what I mean here when we see 2-Loss LSU Champs and Florida Champs that have never had an undefeated season. Furthermore winning the SEC these days seems to get you into the NC mix, however UGA has two under their belt where they didn't really even sniff it. Once, again we face a scenario this year where we could win the SEC but not reach the mythical national title game in Miami. I've outlined previously how it seems strange that this year we're probably going to face a scenario where an SEC champion actually gets passed over the National Championship game.
Just because you're SEC Champ doesn't mean you get to dance for it all.... it has to be the right team with the right set of circumstances, not necessarily your best team. Let's look at the last 10. Funny, of the least ten SEC winners, 7 have gone on to play for the NC. That leaves three that haven't and of course those two UGA SEC Championships fall into place here. Right product, wrong season.
2002 - Georgia wins SEC, no shot at national title with one loss
2003 - LSU beats UGA, gets to earn a shot at a split national title
2004 - Auburn of course wins SEC, gets left out (this would never happen today)
2005 - UGA wins SEC, no shot at SEC with 2 losses - even 0 losses may not have taken over USC/UT
2006 - Florida loses to Auburn, but still gets a chance to win SEC and play in Dome
2007- Two loss LSU gets probably the luckiest ever and a crack at the NC
2008 - Florida can lose to Ole Miss, but gets the SEC and a shot at the NC
2009 - Bama beats down on Florida with an undefeated season
2010 - Auburn handles business, no questions here
2011 - LSU wins SEC with no losses, but of course gets beat by back door in Bama
This made me think.... what is the actual perception of this team compared to efforts we've given towards the National Championship in the past? Right now at this point in the season based on the non-undefeated seasons we've had in the past, this Georgia team (with a lot of help) has just about as good a shot as any to reach the game with three weeks to go. Realizing how hard it is to reach the national title you obviously won't ever complain if you get there. It still seems a little funny to me because we've never really perceived this team all season as the "best in the country" yet they may get a shot to prove that. We got blasted by South Carolina and have been viewed as in a lower class than Bama from a national perspective standpoint, yet still face the chance to go to the game.
In 2002 we were SEC Champs. Some would say it was one of the best UGA defenses of all time, with our greatest quarterback at the helm. We controlled our own destiny but lost to Florida therefore eliminating ourselves from contention. Prior to Auburn's passover in 2004, it would have also been an interesting scenario if UGA had finished undefeated with the likes of Miami and Ohio State probably getting in with their undefeated seasons (remember this is prior to the supposed SEC favoritism due to a run of dominance). Case one where a UGA team wins the SEC but doesn't get in.
In 2005 we had some ugly losses and some untimely injuries but worked our way into the Dome. Of course we took down top 5 ranked and mighty LSU in the game, yet still didn't even have a chance of greater things when we entered. DJ was probably the most versatile QB we've had, and the team seemed to put it all together in the Dome. Of course some would say that subsequent loss to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl was the first in a long string of losses that started somewhat of the reality check that the Georgia program needed. Case two of winning the conference, but having nothing to play for.
In 2007 some would argue that UGA was the best team in the country at the end of the season. We had some serious offensive talent with future first round picks Stafford, Moreno, and AJ Green. Of course ironically none of these guys actually reached the Dome for an SEC Championship shot. This is a case of potentially great talent, but never getting the crack. Would UGA have beaten either LSU or Ohio State in a game that year at the "end" of the season? In my honest opinion probably so. I was a junior in college and watching that team go to work and click seamlessly as the season closed was truly something to behold. In the end of course we were slotted to move up to #2 in the final BCS standings, but of course the debate took hold about conference champions and the voters ended up not putting us there (showing that pecking order actually means nothing until the final ballots are cast after the media gets a hold of it). Case three where probably the most talented and hot UGA team who people might have believed was the best in the country didn't get their shot.
I use these three examples to show that it's funny how simply "doing that one thing that's asked of you" doesn't always work out. We could face another scenario this year where we beat Bama in the Dome to grab the SEC crown but of course have nothing to show for it. You could also argue that in most years if you have one loss and win the SEC you've got a pretty dang good (maybe 75% chance) to play for the National Title.
That's what I ask you, the fanbase. Is this a team at the moment that if they got in, you'd actually view as a team that is considered one of the top 2 in the country? Look I know the SC loss was bad and the Florida win was ugly, but I also realize we could probably beat Oregon or Kansas State on a given day (not saying we would, just obviously that we could). If this Georgia team actually beat Bama would you consider them the best team we've had in the Richt era? It's the debate that maybe the team that wasn't the best actually got the shot to play in the game that maybe other teams deserved. We all know you're never going to argue if you get there, and you won't debate too much if you hoist that crystal ball. It's just funny to sit in this scenario right now and speculate, as you don't really feel like this team is a current "national championship team". That can all change with a little media perception and a big win in the Dome. We may never get to see the opportunity, but maybe all the pieces actually fall the right way for this team amongst all the other Dawg teams that had to enter the controversy. Here's to a playoff if we don't get there.
Q: Do you think this is the best team Georgia has had under Mark Richt if they beat Bama?
Q: Do you consider this a national championship caliber team?